Although times are changing and there could probably be a case made for YouTube and social
media, however most of our information still comes from Books. There are countless volumes
written on the subject of manufacturing and or lean manufacturing. I’m sure as you’re reading
this a few titles are popping into mind. As manufacturers there seems to be a never ending river
of problems to solve, but what’s our excuse? Are we the first ones to encounter this problem? Is
this problem truly unique to only me? There is a better than average chance that the exact thing
you’e struggling with has been solved by the manufacturing greats who have come before us.
The Henry Fords, Taiichi Ono, Dr. Goldratt to name a few. Just as fortunate as having someone
already solve that problem is the fact that they took the time to write a book about it. So now
what’s our excuse? We’re literally only one book away from watching our problems vanish into
thin air. I know what you’re thinking, you’re not a team of one. You have read the books but your
frustration grows with your team, because despite your best effort you can’t get them to read
No one said being a leader was easy. If it was simple as finding a good book and asking your
team to read it, followed by a perfect implementation, we would all be on cloud nine at work. But
the universe has seen fit to make sure every day is as challenging as possible, so it’s our job to
figure out how to bridge the gap between “I found a good book” and “my whole team has read
In my opinion books fall into three categories;
• the first category would be an absolutely need to know in order to work here.
• The second category would be the fundamental books you need to become a leader.
• Third, and last category is for all the Rockstars in your organization who just can’t get
enough learning. They are seeking out information to help better themselves and the
organization. You’re really not concerned with what they are reading cause you know it will
Here are three ways to help bridge that gap and get people reading;
1.) Have a predetermined book or two that embodies what you were trying to create at your
company. Make these books part of your on boarding process. Yes you will have to pay people
to read books either on their time or yours, but the long and short of the story is you’re not going
out onto the shop floor until you have completed our reading list. At my company we currently
have two books that are a must read during our on-boarding process. the first one is “2 Second
Lean”. This gets people in the frame of mind for what we’re trying to create, also it primes the
pump for what we will be asking of them. The 2nd book is “how to win friends and influence
people”. I firmly believe the life lessons in this book not only help people at work, but will
dramatically improve their life outside of work. This book helps people understand human
motivation and how to communicate with one another. It’s amazing how many people totally
unbeknownst to them upset everyone around them every time they open their mouth.
2.) Group reading, this is where can you take a predetermined amount of time from your
morning meeting (which I know your are doing…. RIGHT?!?!?!) And work your way through a
book with your team. At my company we’ve experimented with variations of this. We have had
everybody read a paragraph or two, we have selected a person each day to read a chapter, and
depending on the book sometimes you can find the audio on YouTube and just have people
follow along. It is a wonderful way to thoroughly get through a book with your whole team. One
of the biggest benefits is it allows for discussion after each chapter. So even the people who
aren’t that crazy about being part of this little book reading segment of your morning meeting
still can’t help but to hear it. It’s like the old saying “if you stand in the rain you’re probably gonna
You can get really creative with this method, we once had a co-op student who wanted to be a
teacher, so we asked her to create a course around the book 2 second lean. So now in our
database we have questions and answers for each chapter around all the points that we really
want to make. We call this our two second lean university and we probably run it once or twice a
year. We do notice a dramatic upswing and improvements after each iteration. So have fun and
get creative with your team on how you can work your way through the book of your choice.
3.) Create a book club. Now admittedly you may not get your entire organization to sign up. But
what a great way to separate the A-players and the potential leaders. I have seen book clubs
have a great success, mostly because everybody there wants to be there, they want to learn
and they want to grow. This makes for fantastic discussion not only about the book but how to
apply it to your organization. Typically book clubs are done in a format where the reading is
done on your own time, and the discussions take place once a week during working hours.
Now remember nothing is cast in stone, the key is to make it work for you and your teams. The
goal is simple: how can I get my team learning and growing together?
If you have discovered any weird and wonderful ways of learning with your team, reach out and
share it with us, we love hearing success stories and learning new things.